Match report Vs Bradford Park AvenueVenue: AggboroughDate: 28-04-18Att: 1642 (away fans: 59)

28-04-18 - Report - Harriers 1 Bradford Park Avenue 2

Harriers second half collapse see’s Bradford in the play offs

Report: Phil Lench

Some might say that because we are safely in the play offs with home advantage, and also firmly fixed in fourth place in the table, that the result at home today against Bradford Park Avenue didn’t matter a jot but they’d be wrong. With BPA also chasing a play off place by confirming a seventh place finish, and so their return back to Aggborough on Wednesday evening, then psychologically we needed to gain a positive result against them today otherwise they would come back here thinking they had a chance to turn us over and go onto the next round at the Harriers expense.

As it was we’ve given them a massive confidence boost this evening after allowing them back into the game during a lethargic second half and a last gasp winning goal into the bargain. As we have now realised last minute switch offs are the norm for us and sadly it could easily happen again in four days time when we play BPA in the new fangled ‘play off eliminator’.

As expected we began the game with a slightly weakened side. Although Dan Bradley was returning from injury and the returning James Pearson was on the bench there were some different starters in different positions coming in. Joel Taylor partnered Kennedy Digie in the centre of the park while Liam Truslove took a supporting role behind a front two of Andre Brown and Bradley. The very strong bench comprised of the aforementioned Pearson along with James McQuilkin, Joe Ironside, George Waring and Ryan Croasdale. 

The game started well enough for us though with Bradley almost opening the scoring within the first few minutes when he lobbed the Bradford keeper, Steven Drench, only for the ball to hit the crossbar and then flipped out for a corner by Drench. Five minutes later came an early warning that Bradford were intent on confirming their play off spot themselves and not rely on other teams dropping points themselves when Nicky Wroe moved forwards through a static defence to unleash a shot that went past Brandon Hall but then crashed against the upright.

It didn’t take much longer for the Reds to open the scoring. A superb example of player understanding saw Elton N’Gwatala play a through ball behind the rigid Bradford back line for Bradley to quickly run round, collect the ball, sidestep the stranded keep then roll the ball home.

For the rest of the half we then struggled to create anything similar to what we had just seen. Manny Sonupè wasted his first of many chances by refusing to acknowledge that he plays in a team and took the lone option when he broke free from his markers and then opted to fire in, not one but twice, from a position out wide and not cross the ball to a better placed colleague. It might look spectacular when they go in but not so much so when there are better options available. 

The visitors responded with a chance for Oli Johnson that bought out the best in Hall when he somehow stopped Johnsons powerful shot from going in. It was a save worthy of a Premiership goalkeeper.

We couldn’t really top that and the remainder of the half was managed out to its end. 

HT: 1 – 0

The second period started with a change for the Harriers with Bradley being exchanged for James Pearson. A move obviously made to give both the recently injured players a fair share of game time. Pearsons arrival gave us a more secure looking defence and also allowed Sam Austin to play more of a forward role.

Not much was being created still though and more chances were wasted with long range shots being preferred to passing to another player. Slowly BPA began to take control of the game and that was increased when they heard that fellow play off hopefuls Spennymoor Town had taken the lead against Southport after going into the break a goal down. Bradford knew that there was going to be no more pussy footing around and they had to go for it.

At one point during the second period they spent so long in our half that groundsman Ade Ganderton got the lawnmower out to cut the grass in their end. Ten minutes from the end and they got the goal that their hard work had deserved. They were handed a corner that was eventually cleared away by Hall but only as far as Frank Mulhern who took the ball back into the area and fired home through a ruck of players for what we thought – we hoped – would be their only goal.

They didn’t stop there though and continued to press us. We began to rely on quick breakaways but as is the norm we failed to learn our lessons and prefer the solo route yet again. Sam Austin fired wide with better options around him and so did Sonupè once again.

Six minutes of injury time had been added due to injuries to a BPA player and later on to Brandon Hall and with time trickling away the inevitable happened. A ball in the area had been bobbling round for far too long and eventually it dropped at the feet of former Harriers loanee Adam Boyes who didn’t seem to believe his luck that no one was coming in to challenge him and he rolled the ball into an empty net.

With time now running out fast we had one last chance to pull the game back from the brink but again a lack of colleague awareness was our undoing when Andre Brown opted to shoot at goal rather than pass it into the area for either one of George Waring, Elton N’Gwatala or Lee Vaughan to poke home.

We’ll now be seeing Bradford back at Aggborough on Wednesday evening and this time we should be getting a full strength team together and hopefully not make the same rudimentary mistakes again otherwise we won’t be the ones going to Brackley next Sunday afternoon.

FT: 1 – 2

Goal for Harriers: Bradley 14

Goals for Bradford PA: Mulhern 81, Boyes 93

The Harriers Online MotM is: Brandon Hall

Talk about the game here and phone the Harriers Hotline on 01905 577 777 after the game too

Latest table and stats here

Harriers Goals Subs Time Cards
B Hall        
L Vaughan        
Truslove   61  
A Brown        
Bradley 46  
Waring   61  
Pearson   46  
Bradford Park Avenue Goals Subs Time Cards
Spencer   75  
Mulhern 94
E Hall        
Boshell   94  
Vidal   75  
Mr Scott Simpson
Stoke on Trent